GREENSBORO, NC – John Scheer stood on the podium, wiping his brows and scanning the bubbly crowd while his Duke players danced around the ACC Tournament championship trophy.
That’s when Kyle Filipowski walked up behind his coach and wrapped an arm around him.
The young Blue Devils — from their freshmen to their 35-year-old rookie head coach — can enjoy the moment that Oh feels familiar for the blue-blood program.
Filipowski had 20 points and 10 rebounds as the tournament’s MVP and No. 21 Duke shutout defensively to beat No. 13 Virginia 59-49 in the ACC tournament championship game on Saturday night, the Hall of Fame heir apparent. Shearer’s debut season in form secured a title. Coach Mike Krzyzewski.
“Coming in, everyone was talking about, ‘We’re too young, Shearer’s first year,'” freshman guard Tyrese Proctor said, standing amid confetti on the court. “We stuck together all year and just didn’t give up.”
Jeremy Roach scored 19 of his career-high 23 points after halftime for the fourth-seeded Blue Devils (26-8), who completed last month’s surge to the top of the ACC to claim a league-record 22nd championship. Did.
Only now, it’s up to the former Blue Devils player and assistant coach in charge.
Scheyer spent last year as coach-in-waiting for Krzyzewski’s penultimate Final Four run, assembling the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class and then leading the young team to enter the NCAA Tournament on a nine-game winning streak. -led that group through the lows.
Yes, he said, new players coming in this season or returning from last year wanted to be part of the Duke tradition. But it was also a leap of faith for the program at a critical moment of change.
“They believed in us and me,” Shearer said, “and obviously I felt the same way about each and every one of them.”
It was all Scheyer soaking up the scene from his midcourt-stage perch serenading fans and basking in “a surreal feeling.” This included becoming the first to win an ACC tournament title as both a player and a coach, and only the third first-year coach to claim the title.
Duke’s winning streak began after an overtime loss at Virginia in which a league-sanctioned officiating error allowed the Blue Devils to win in regulation. This time, Duke grinded its way through Horn by leaning on a defense-first approach that Scheer has carried all season.
The Blue Devils held the second-seeded Cavaliers (25-7) to 33% shooting, missing both committed and clean looks as Virginia committed as many shots (16) as it committed as many turnovers (12).
Virginia coach Tony Bennett said, “His length and athleticism was real, and I think at times it caught us off guard.” “And we were a little uncharacteristic or a little rushed at times. I think they sat down and guarded. We sat down and tried to guard hard, and there just wasn’t much.”
The Blue Devils never trailed, leading by 14 points and keeping the Cavaliers – at a methodical pace and their own defensive-minded style – working to inch closer all night.
Reece Beekman scored 12 points for Virginia, which moved to scramble to within six on Isaac McNeely’s 3-pointer with 3 minutes, 5 seconds remaining and within five on Keihei Clark’s layup with 1:07 remaining. Finally, Beekman pulled Virginia to within 53–49 on a driving layup around Filipowski with 44 seconds remaining.
But the Blue Devils didn’t falter, hitting six straight free throws to seal the win. Roach, a junior, hit four of them, turning into a veteran on a freshman team reminiscent of some of his big postseason moments during last year’s Final Four run.
Scheyer finally started waving a hand behind the bench to the Duke fans, preparing to line up for Shore’s final free throw with freshman Mark Mitchell, with 22.1 seconds left.
Moments later, Scheer began exchanging handshakes and high-fives with his staff as Proctor dribbled out the clock. The horn sounded and Proctor tossed the ball skyward, yelling as the players circled each other for the first title in Duke’s new era.